Showing posts with label Walt Disney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walt Disney. Show all posts

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Disneyland's Tencennial


January 3, 1965 – Disneyland – Anaheim, CA

Disneyland observes its tenth anniversary with a Tencennial Parade.  On television Walt Disney introduces a host of new attractions coming to the theme park on his “Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color” Sunday night program. He is joined in this episode by the first Disneyland Ambassador, Julie Reihm, whom he refers to as Miss Disneyland.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - WED Enterprises


December 16, 1952 – Burbank, CA

WED Enterprises is founded as a private company owned solely by Walt Disney to design and create Disneyland and to manage Disney's personal assets. WED stands for Walter Elias Disney.  Already hard at work on the theme park project are Walt's first 3 Imagineers - Harriet Burns, Fred Joerger and Wathel Rogers.  (In 1982 the Disney family sold the company to Walt Disney Productions, and in 1986 WED was renamed renamed Walt Disney Imagineering.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Walt Disney Passes Away



December 15, 1966 – Burbank, CA

Walter Elias Disney passes away at St. Joseph's Hospital of acute circulatory collapse, as a result of lung cancer, just ten days after his 65th birthday.  The flags on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland are flown at half-staff, as the park opens at Lillian Disney's request to honor her belief that Walt would have wanted the show to go on.  Walt's 74-year old brother Roy determines to postpone his retirement in order to pursue Walt's last dream, the recently announced construction of Walt Disney World in Florida.



December 15, 1973 – Walt Disney World – Lake Buena Vista, FL

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction officially opens in Adventureland at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Housed in a golden Spanish fort called Castillo Del Morro, it is located in the all-new Caribbean Plaza expansion area of Adventureland.  It is based on the original attraction of the same name which opened 6 years earlier at Disneyland and features 125 Audio-Anamatronics (comprised of 65 pirates & villagers and 60 animals).  Guests ride in batueax through flumes filled with 155,000 gallons of water, and unlike the Disneyland original go down one 14-foot drop instead of two drops, which is due to the higher water table in Florida than Southern California.


December 15, 1989 – Walt Disney World – Lake Buena Vista, FL

Star Tours officially opens at the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park at Walt Disney World. It is the first attraction to open in the park's new Backlot Annex area.  Based on the successful Star Wars franchise of movies, it is Disney's 3rd version of the attraction, having first opened at Disneyland in 1986 and Tokyo Disneyland in July 1989.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Walt Disney is Born



December 5, 1901 – Chicago, IL … It ALL Started with Walt

Walter Elias Disney is born to Flora and Elias Disney in their two-story cottage at 1249 Tripp Avenue in a newly developed section of Chicago, Illinois.  (The Disney family will move in April 1906 to a farm in Marceline, MO where Walt and his brothers and sister grew up.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Pirates of the Caribbean

October 31, 1966
Disneyland - Anaheim, CA

Water is filled for the very first time in the flume of Disneyland's newest (and Walt Disney's last) attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean, still under construction in the all-new land, New Orleans Square, personally dedicated by Walt a few months earlier in July. (Walt's untimely death December 15, 1966 precluded him from ever experiencing the finished attraction which opened to the public on March 18, 1967).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Magical Stateroom


Upon boarding the ship, the beautiful Disney Magic, it was truly magical to hear our name announced in the Central Atrium.  As we had been working our way up the gangway to the ship’s entry, while we didn’t quite know what exactly what we would do at first, I had read in the “Personal Navigator”, the daily newsletter given to us while still in the terminal, that until 3:30 pm we could talk with the Dining personnel regarding any changes we’d like to make.  We had a dinner reservation for Palo – for the very first night – which I was not overly thrilled about.  But it was the only one that I could get when I made the reservation.  Nothing else was available through the online system.  Even when I phoned to talk to someone, that’s “all” they had. 

I had also previously heard that Animator’s Palette undergoes a beautiful transformation from “black & white” to “color”, but only on the first evening you dine in that restaurant.  As luck would have it, we were scheduled to dine in Animator’s Palette that evening, except for the fact that we were going to Palo.  Our first destination was Rockin’ Bar D, right there on Deck 3, just forward of the Central Atrium, where we could ask about reservation changes.   “No problem”,  “whatever you want”,  and “when would you like to dine with us?” were the wonderful phrases that Palo’s manager had to say when we inquired.  Not only did he say these things, but he gave us multiple time options when we said we would like to switch it to the second night.  Now that was a wonderful beginning to our cruise!  

It was now about 1:15, and we could not access our stateroom until after 1:45, and we both realized that we were feeling a bit hungry.  We’d eaten at around 9:00, and with the various swirl of activity to that point hadn’t really paid attention to the feeling until now when we were finally able to start to relax.  So our next destination was up to Deck 9 and Topsider’s Buffet.  We enjoyed a nice meal and some time to just sit and relax, as multiple servers came to our table trying to get us to purchase the refillable beer mug (we don’t drink) or the water package.  We’d already purchased water, so we didn’t need more.  Finally it was 1:45, and time to head down to see if our room was ready. 




As we worked our way around Decks 9 and 10, trying to figure out the deckplan, we enjoyed seeing the main pool area, the Mickey pool, and the adult pool near the Cove Cafe, as well as finding the Vista Spa, where we were invited in (I say that loosely, as it was hard to say no to all the smiles and charm being poured out) for a tour of the spa.  (I’ll share about the spa later in the updates).  We also got a tour of the terrific gym they have onboard. 

Finally we found our way down to our stateroom.  We were on Deck 2, in a Deluxe Oceanview stateroom.  When I first learned the placement of our room prior to sailing, I wasn’t all that thrilled about being “way down” on Deck 2 – but as the week wore on, I grew to really love where we were located.  I’ll talk about that later.

So I titled this entry “A Magical Stateroom”;  which is of course a play on the ship’s name, but also a little bit of reality as to what we felt about that room.  In and of itself, it’s just a room on a ship, with no balcony or private verandah – just a window looking out to sea.  BUT, and the big BUT here – is that that room, was enormous.  I’ve been in Oceanview rooms in the past, on other ships from other cruise lines – and WOW, this room was like night and day from those other ships and lines.  It was HUGE as cruise line staterooms go.  (Remember this was our first Disney Cruise Line voyage), so we were definitely impressed with what we were getting. 

Upon entry, the bathrooms (yes plural) were on the left, and the huge closest on the right.  There is a split bath situation with the first room having commode and sink with a neat little corner shelving unit – and the other bathroom having a tub (with shower) and another sink.  Certainly the tub wasn't large enough for an adult to enjoy a bath, but great for families traveling with small children who take baths instead of showers!  Immediately my lovely bride determined that we would have a his & hers bathroom situation for getting dressed for dinner, etc.

Beyond the bathrooms was the bedroom portion, with a dresser and a cool storage unit made to look like an old-fashioned steamer trunk standing up on its’ side.  There’s a night table with lamp on each side of the bed, which can be separated into two twin beds when guests are traveling together who don’t normally share a bed. 

 Beyond the main sleeping area is the sitting area, which of course is a sleeper sofa or a secondary bedroom area when traveling with children or if you just have 3 or 4 guests who want to share a single room.  There is a curtain to divide the two spaces.  The sitting area included the vanity table/desk area, with additional storage drawers.  But the best part of the sitting area is the enormous window.  It is circular in shape, but not just a mere porthole, it’s double to triple the size of a typical porthole window.  We had a great view! Sure having a balcony would have been even nicer, but with the size of the window, the room didn't really feel constrained. We were able to see a lot from that window. 

The d├ęcor of the room of course is a “Disney”.  We had the typical above-bed artwork found throughout the ship, but also had a piece of concept art on the wall, created by legendary imagineer Marc Davis for Disneyland back in the ‘60s for the last attraction that Walt Disney had been supervising before his untimely death, “Pirates of the Caribbean”.  Additionally the room sported a photo of Walt & Lillian Disney on deck of a ship that they sailed on to Europe back in the ‘50’s. 

Moments ago I mentioned that during the week we grew to really love our location, on Deck 2.  A big part of the reason that we liked it so much was that we were Mid-ship. Not only were we Mid-ship, but we were also just a few doors away from the Mid-Ship elevators.  Now normally I don’t recommend to clients being right near the elevators, but wow, it was great to be able to quickly head up the stairs to Deck 3 and all of the fun and excitement that was found there, or to head down our corridor in either direction to get the Forward or Aft elevators or stairs for things that were going on in those areas on other decks.  Because we were right below the Central Atrium, getting back to our room was very quick and easy any time we needed Guest Services, were in the Atrium or up to Studio Sea (just off the Atrium on Deck 4) for activities, or in the shops on Deck 4.  It’s a personal preference I know, but I just loved being right the heart of it all, rather than stuffed up on an upper deck away from it all – which is where I was on my last cruise.  This location just really fit my preferences a lot better. 
So there you go, our Magical room, with more to come in the next update. 

Until next time,


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - Carnation Plaza Gardens


August 18, 1956 - Disneyland

Carnation Plaza Gardens opens at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., in the Plaza Hub next to Sleeping Beauty Castle. An outdoor bandstand and dining location, it will become a popular site for dancing, musical performances and "Date Night at Disneyland".  



Walt & Lillian Disney swing dance at Carnation Plaza Gardens, circa 1958


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Today in Disney Parks and Resorts History - The Haunted Mansion


August 9, 1969 – Disneyland

The Haunted Mansion opens in New Orleans Square. The grand opening of the attraction is heralded by a promotional blitz that include the "I Scream" Sundaes sold at Disneyland's Carnation Plaza Gardens.  The attraction's opening has been long-awaited, as the exterior facade was first built in 1963, but sat dormant as Walt and the Imagineers' attentions turned to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, and Walt's untimely death in 1966 brought about further delay.  


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - Disneyland's Design


From the very first steps inside the turnstiles, the guest is transported inside this living, 3D "film" playing out before them. The red concrete between the turnstiles and the Mickey floral planter in front of them, leading to the left or right and the tunnels going under the railroad tracks are the "lobby" of this theatre. The tunnels are the entrance portals into the story playing out within the "theatre" that is the park itself. 

Once inside, the enjoyment truly begins as the stories begin to unfold all around the guests. An earthen berm was built around the park, to shield it from the intrusions of the outside world. The original design of the park included five "scenes" or magical lands to explore and enjoy...

  • Scene One unfolds all around the guests through the wonders of turn-of the-century Americana known as MAIN STREET, U.S.A... American at a crossroads, where the gas lamp is being replaced by electric lamps, and the horseless carriages are overtaking the horse-drawn carriages.
  • Scene Two, based on the then-popular "True-Life Adventure" films of the 1940's and '50's took guests into an exoctic locale known as ADVENTURELAND, celebrating the remote jungles of Africa and Asia.
  • Scene Three recreated the pioneering days of Davy Crockett and the great American frontier - FRONTIERLAND. Walt was extremely proud of, and enamored by those men and women of vision and courage to move across the great central plains of America to help settle the west, he once wrote, "Here you can return to frontier America, from the Revolutionary War era to the final taming of the great Southwest; our adventures are designed to gie you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's pioneer days." In the early days of Frontierland guests could ride in a stage coach, or take a ride on pack mules just as those early settlers might have done.
  • Scene Four brought Walt's beloved animated characters to life in a charming array of storybook based attractions in FANTASYLAND. Stepping across the drawbridge and in to Sleeping Beauty Castle and the castle's courtyard, guests are tranported into a charming world where elephants can fly, Peter Pan flys once again to Neverland, the Mad Hatter hosts a dizzying tea party and many other charming fairytales come to life.
  • Scene Five was an opportunity for guests to imagine what the future might hold as America was just beginning to experience the technical marvels of the "Space Age" in TOMORROWLAND. As Walt said, "Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future." (That future, as imagined for opening day was then then-distant 1986... certainly a lot has come and gone since then!)

Each land was designed to fully immerse the guests within that particular theme. Movie-making tricks that had been around for decades were employed to set the scenes and get the story moving. Architecture and aesthetics were key. Attention to detail critical. All done to enhance the show, and give the guests an incredible experience like none they'd ever experienced before. As Walt Disney said, "I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in Disneyland. I want them to feel they're in another world."

Walt's inspired design concept has been successfully repeated in four other Magic Kingdoms around the globe:  Orlando, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, and will soon play out yet again in Shanghai.  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where in the World Wednesday - Destinations to Explore Before Leaving This Life

The Walt Disney Family Museum - San Francisco, California

The Walt Disney Family Museum first opened October 1, 2009.  It is a 77,000 square foot facility which is located within the historic Presidio of San Francisco, near the Golden Gate Bridge, and is comprised of three buildings within the former military post. It is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation, established by Walt's heirs, and is not formally associated with the media conglomerate that also bears his name - The Walt Disney Company. 

Walt Disney Family Museum
© Frank Anzalone
The museum features early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, plus a 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland as Walt knew it.  The lobby contains 248 awards that Walt Disney won during his career, including many Academy Awards - including the honorary award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the one full-size Oscar alongside the seven miniature versions), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

There are ten permanent galleries, beginning with his family history and ending with his death on December 15th, 1966.  They are comprised of:

  • Gallery 1 Beginnings: Walt Disney’s Early Years (1901-1923)
  • Gallery 2 Hollywood (1923-1928)
  • Galleries 3 New Horizons: The Emergence of the Walt Disney Studio (1928 to 1940)
  • Gallery 4 The Move to Features: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Gallery 5 New Success and Greater Ambitions
  • Gallery 6 The Late ‘30s to Mid ‘40s
  • Gallery 7 Post-War Rebuilding: Mid-‘40s to the early 1950s
  • Gallery 8 Walt and the Natural World
  • Gallery 9 The 1950s and 1960s: The Big Screen and Beyond
  • Gallery 10 Remembering Walt Disney
Walt Disney Family Museum © Frank Anzalone

Admission is by timed-entry ticket, which helps to regulate the flow of visitors - at least through the front door. Once inside, you are free to tour the Museum at your own pace, Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, and $12.50 for children 6 to 17. Admission is free for members. Tickets can be purchased online, up to 60 days in advance of your visit.

To museum is located at:  104 Montgomery Street * San Francisco, CA 94129 * (415) 345-6800 * waltdisney.org‎.

For more information and to reserve your next vacation to California, or to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum, contact me at 855.776.1733 or via my websites:  www.neverlandadventurestravel.com or www.neverlandadventurescruises.com.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, circle me on Google+, and pin me on Pinterest






Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Birthday Spent on the Savannah



Today is Disneyland's 57th Birthday, and I'm spending it on the savannah... well, at least overlooking Disney's savannah in Florida.  We're staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village.  We have a Sunset Savannah view room, and the view truly is spectacular.



The animals are so peaceful and enjoyable to watch.  Many are simply gorgeous.  We have been enraptured by them throughout the afternoon today.  We've enjoyed watching the various creatures that inhabit the resort's various savannahs.  We haven't taken pictures of each variety yet, but here are just a couple that we have documented so far on this trip. 

This is not our first stay at Animal Kingdom - rather it's our third as a family.  Plus I've stayed here an additional three or four times while on business.  It's a terrific place to stay.  I just love the neighbors!  If you have ever considered staying here before but haven't done it... I would definitely encourage you to do so.  And if it hasn't even crossed your mind before... you really should consider it.  There are many wonderful resorts here at Walt Disney World - but Animal Kingdom Lodge really is one of the coolest!  

The savannahs that were created, along with the animals that roam freely, coupled with the amazing attention to detail and architectural stylings certainly help transport guests away mentally from Florida.  You really can forget that you are in the middle of the Sunshine State.  

As I stood on the balcony this afternoon, and alternately sat on the zebra-backed chair, I remembered that across the nation, a magical little place was celebrating another anniversary. Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom turned 57.  Another year has passed since Walt first stood in Town Square making his dedication speech - filled with wonderful memories for the nearly millions of guests who passed through its' gates in the past 12 months and new experiences awaiting those who will enter in the months to come.  

I sat on that balcony today, and thought about the memories that I was helping to shape and create for my children and wife as we enjoy our vacation this week, and remembered that it was the father, who all those years ago while watching his daughters have fun on the merry-go-round at Griffith Park, thought, there should be a place where parents and children could have fun together.  Walt may not have been able to build his park while his daughters were still young, but he sure was able to enjoy that magical little park with his daughter's children.  And then as parents and their children came in droves to visit the park throughout the 1950s and 1960's, his dream expanded eastward, and Walt Disney World was born in 1971.  As time has passed - newer and more expansive concepts have become reality, and the Disney parks and resorts have become destinations unto themselves - where millions of parents and their children - and even grandparents, parents, and children can have fun together.  

The last time we stayed at Animal Kingdom, we were here with my folks.  Some wonderful memories were made on that trip - even to the point that when I shared with my mother that we were returning to Kidani Village, my mother got a bit sad - because they weren't able to join us this time!  

During my youth in Southern California, I was able to make it to the park for a number of birthday celebrations, and have several commemorative buttons from those years in my collection.  But alas, as an adult, living in the Midwest, getting to Disneyland on its' actual birthday is a much harder thing to do.  But this is the first birthday that I've ever spent at the park's sister resort in Florida!  So it's a very fun first for me.  Celebrating Disneyland at Walt Disney World! Not being one to enjoy the usually brutal heat of summer in Florida - I have never once before been here for this auspicious occasion.  But this year, I'm here, and having a marvelous time - and of course remembering, that without Disneyland - Walt Disney World would not even exist. 

Walt sure knew what he was doing all those years ago.  So once again, I say Happy Birthday Disneyland!  Walt knew we all needed you.  

Until next time,





Happy 57th Disneyland!

Disneyland turns 57 today!  Happy Birthday to the ORIGINAL Magic Kingdom...


It is the place where ALL of the magic began.  Where Walt Disney was able to see his dreams of a magical little park come true.  It served as the inspiration for other dreams (such as Walt Disney World, and the international parks in Japan, France, Hong Kong and soon to be in mainland China).  


As Walt Disney said on July 17, 1955 when dedicating his brand-new theme park, what's come to be known as the "granddaddy of them all"...


"To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past; and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts which have created America; with the hope that it will be a source of joy, and inspiration to all the world."
Walt Disney's dedication speech, inscribed on a plaque in Town Square, Main Street, USA

Disneyland began as a dream - a dream of a DAD, wishing for a place that he could have fun WITH his daughters, instead of just sitting on a bench WATCHING them have fun on the merry-go-round. A family park, where parents and children could have fun together. So what IS Disneyland? I like this description, found inside the first few pages of a commemorative book sold back in 1985, DISNEYLAND: THE FIRST THIRTY YEARS ( copyright Walt Disney Productions, MCMLXXXV) - this next section are not my words, but the book's words - but I think they describe Disneyland perfectly... and have been so much a part of why I love Disneyland as much as I do since I first read them back in 1985 when I first bought the book. For me, it just encapsulates so well what I think and feel of that magical place in Anaheim, California... and remember that this was written 26 years ago, so the time and visitor counts mentioned are much, much higher in 2011 than they were in 1985...

"What is Disneyland? For almost a third of a century, more than 240 million guests from nearly every nation have visited Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom to find out for themselves. But Disneyland offers no definitive answer, because no two people leave the Magic Kingdom with exactly the same memories, experiences or impressions.

Disneyland is a kaleidoscope of unique entertainment forms. It represents the intangibles of the mind, yet exhibits a logical, physical world. Within its thematic realms are medieval castles and rocket ships, horse-drawn streetcars and streamlined monorail trains, jungle elephants and elephants that fly, a snow-capped mountain and a "space" mountain.

Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. brings to life the spirit of America at the turn of the 20th Century, while Tomorrowland looks ahead to the turn of the 21st. America's heritage is found in rugged Frontierland and Bear Country, and in the grace and charm of New Orleans Square. The sleeping dreams of childhood are awakened within the courtyard of Fantasyland's fairtytale castle. Within the dense tropical jungles of Adventureland, dreams of far-off, exotic places come to life.

Disneyland is the innocence of youth and the wisdom of age. A child examines the hitching posts that line an 1890 street and asks, "Mommy, what kind of parking meters are these?" An elderly gentleman on the same street smiles h

appily and tells a bystander what he likes best about Disneyland - "I can jaywalk here"! A young man aboard a "Mississippi" sternwheeler on a moonlit night seeks an introduction to a girl by asking, "Is this your first trip abroad?"

Disneyland is a place where people forget their everyday cares and immerse themselves in lands of fantasy and adventure, yesterday and tomorrow. You find the magic of Disneyland in the soft pastel lighting on Sleeping Beauty Castle as evening approaches, in the dancing eyes of a grandfather wearing an orange-billed Donald Duck hat, and in a child kissing Mickey Mouse while Dad fumbles with the camera.

Disneyland is the emotion that wells up within you when the Mark Twain sternwheeler churs 'round the bend, twinkling with pin lights from stern to stern, while nearby a Dixieland band blasts out "When the Saints Go Marching In". It is the pride you feel when the band renders the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Main Street Retreat Ceremony each evening, as a flock of white doves encircles Town Square.

But to describe the real meaning of Disneyland is to unfold its story from the very beginning - from the time when it was merely a twinkle in the eye of its creator, Walt Disney, "Showman of the World".

Disneyland was Walt's dream. It was the next logical step in quality storytelling for the creative genius that he was. It was an opportunity to create something that could be that "family park" where parents and children could have fun together - but do so in such a unique and artistic way that really could envelope those family members in the stories and environments that Walt felt the park should have. He turned to his own team of artists to help bring the magic to life. His filmmakers really are the ones who helped create the environments and atmospheres that you see in Disneyland (and later on at Walt Disney World and the other Disney theme parks around the globe). The entire design for Disneyland was simply a form of storytelling. The audience of a movie simply sat and enjoyed the picture in front of them - but at Disneyland, the audience became participants "in" the action playing out all around them.

From the very first steps inside the turnstiles, the guest is transported inside this living, 3D "film" playing out before them. The red concrete between the turnstiles and the Mickey floral planter in front of them, leading to the left or right and the tunnels going under the railroad tracks are the "lobby" of this theatre. The tunnels are the entrance portals into the story playing out within the "theatre" that is the park itself. Once inside, the enjoyment truly begins as the stories begin to unfold all around the guests. An earthen berm was built around the park, to shield it from the intrusions of the outside world. The original design of the park included five "scenes" or magical lands to explore and enjoy...
  • Scene One unfolds all around the guests through the wonders of turn-of the-century Americana known as MAIN STREET, U.S.A... American at a crossroads, where the gas lamp is being replaced by electric lamps, and the horseless carriages are overtaking the horse-drawn carriages.
  • Scene Two, based on the then-popular "True-Life Adventure" films of the 1940's and '50's took guests into an exoctic locale known as ADVENTURELAND, celebrating the remote jungles of Africa and Asia.
  • Scene Three recreated the pioneering days of Davy Crockett and the great American frontier - FRONTIERLAND. Walt was extremely proud of, and enamored by those men and women of vision and courage to move across the great central plains of America to help settle the west, he once wrote, "Here you can return to frontier America, from the Revolutionary War era to the final taming of the great Southwest; our adventures are designed to gie you the feeling of having lived, even for a short while, during our country's pioneer days." In the early days of Frontierland guests could ride in a stage coach, or take a ride on pack mules just as those early settlers might have done.
  • Scene Four brought Walt's beloved animated characters to life in a charming array of storybook based attractions in FANTASYLAND. Stepping across the drawbridge and in to Sleeping Beauty Castle and the castle's courtyard, guests are tranported into a charming world where elephants can fly, Peter Pan flys once again to Neverland, the Mad Hatter hosts a dizzying tea party and many other charming fairytales come to life.
  • Scene Five was an opportunity for guests to imagine what the future might hold as America was just beginning to experience the technical marvels of the "Space Age" in TOMORROWLAND. As Walt said, "Tomorrowland attractions have been designed to give you an opportunity to participate in adventures that are a living blueprint of our future." (That future, as imagined for opening day was then then-distant 1986... certainly a lot has come and gone since then!)

Each land was designed to fully immerse the guests within that particular theme. Movie-making tricks that had been around for decades were employed to set the scenes and get the story moving. Architecture and aesthetics were key. Attention to detail critical. All done to enhance the show, and give the guests an incredible experience like none they'd ever experienced before. As Walt Disney said, "I don't want the public to see the world they live in while they're in Disneyland. I want them to feel they're in another world."

Disneyland was Walt's proving ground - proving to the world that he he DID know what he was doing and wasn't crazy as many in the months leading up to Disneyland's construction and grand opening thought he was... specifically for what he DID NOT want to include in his park's design... carnival games, roller coasters, ferris wheels, a tunnel of love and on and on. Rather Walt wanted a world filled with fantasy and wonder, a place that would transport its' guests to our nation's rustic past, or blast them into the future... a place built very much like a movie set that would immerse the guests right into the action of the story playing out all around them. As many of the bankers said in those days, dreams don't sell. But that July of 1955 certainly proved his scoffers wrong... so very wrong, that by the end of that very first September more than a million people had flocked to see "Walt's Folly." Disneyland had instantly become a smashing success. And it was only about 10 short years later that Walt was dreaming up a way to build on the success of his initial Magic Kingdom.

Walt saw very early on with Disneyland that when the time came to do anything else, he would need to acquire more land. Walt and his brother Roy had been only been able to purchase about 300 acres in then-rural Anaheim, which was the projected heart of growth for a burgeoning Southern California metroplex. He'd wished he'd been able to purchase more, but he wasn't able to do it. As a result, very soon after the park opened many entreprenuers popped up all around the perimeter of the park... motels, restaurants and other ventures which all created a kind of an atmosphere that Walt didn't want. His park was about escaping the rigors of the real world, and yet it was all encroaching around him and his magical little park. When it came time to purchase the land for the Florida project he was sure to cobble together as many acres as he could - more than 27,000 - about 47 square miles - twice the size of Manhattan, or about the size of the city of San Francisco.

The vast expanse of land in Florida provides for long greenbelts, vast forest land hiding away various elements that visitors don't need to see. But of course that vast expanse of land also translates into long bus rides in between parks, resorts and other entertainment offerings. No so at Disneyland. Disneyland is compact - everything is closer together - and if a guest chooses to stay "on-property" in a Disneyland Resort hotel... there is no need to ever step on a bus to get between park and resort. Everything is in close proximity to each other, and just a few short moment's walk until arrival at the next destination.


The original DCA logo
What began as a single park in 1955, DISNEYLAND, expanded into a resort destination unto itself in 2001 with the opening of the second theme park, DISNEY'S CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE (renamed in 2010 to Disney California Adventure), as well as the DOWNTOWN DISNEY DISTRICT and the addition of the GRAND CALIFORNIAN HOTEL & SPA - thereby creating THE DISNEYLAND RESORT (DLR), which already included the DISNEYLAND HOTEL and DISNEY'S PARADISE PIER HOTEL.
The new DCA logo

 
One of the things that many, many Disneyland vets say time and time again (myself included)... is that Disneyland truly is Walt's Park. Disneyland was dreamt up, imagined and shepherded by the amazing genius of the creative force behind so many of the great films and cinematic achievements of the 20th century. Even today, 56 years after it first opened, there is such a sense of Walt found throughout the park. Little details, concepts and feelings aroused because you know that Walt himself had a hand in the creation of this magical place - and could very often be found mingling with guests to experience it, just as they were. His apartment above the Fire Station on Main Street is a constant reminder that he slept in the park many nights, and just loved being there. It was a place that he designed with (by that time) his grandchildren in mind.

Walt Disney World is a wonderful place, and I adore being there - but the vibe between the two resorts is just so very different. Disneyland was shepherded by Walt himself, but by the time the plans and blueprints for the Magic Kingdom were being created, Walt was already long gone having died in December 1966. The Magic Kingdom was designed by committee, not having that single creative guru as the final say-so on design, theming and the like and very often it can be felt. There are certainly improvements to guest traffic and flow that help on crowded days, but the real element that is missing in Florida is the Walt element. Disneyland really does just seep Walt all over, strange as that might sound.

So on this my beloved Disneyland's anniversary or birthday - I celebrate what the genius of Walt Disney left for the world to enjoy - his magical little park - Disneyland!  

Happy Birthday Disneyland!




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where in the World Wednesdays - Destinations to Explore Before Leaving this Life


DISNEYLAND RESORT – Anaheim, California

Disneyland, the theme park, first opened its’ gates to the public on July 17, 1955 (57 years ago next Tuesday), though Disneyland the idea, first started to percolate in the mind of its’ progenitor – Walt Disney, as early as the mid-1930’s.  It began as a dream of a magical little park, where parents and children could have fun together – as a father watched his little girls playing on the merry-go-round and other enticements at Griffith Park, not too far from Hollywood, where Walt would take his daughters on Sunday afternoons.

Through the years his magical little park grew in scope, and was placed on the back burner as a variety of events around the world played out throughout the late 1930’s and on through the 1940’s – most famous of all of course was World War II, when many activities at Walt’s studio were halted or at least temporarily ceased.  But after the war ended, the ideas began to bubble up once again to the surface of Walt’s imagination.  In the early 1950’s that magical little park was to be located across the street from the Studio complex in Burbank, CA.  But the ideas just kept getting bigger and grander, and Walt knew that there just wasn’t enough land available for what he wanted to do in his park.  So the search was on for a suitable location to build his dream – Walt’s Folly – as it came to be known throughout the entertainment industry. 

Concept Art for Sleeping Beauty Castle
by Herb Ryman - 1954
Walt invited Marvin Davis, Herb Ryman, Ken Anderson and a few select others to help him turn his dreams into concepts on paper.  Soon the park started to grow again as lands of fantasy, adventure, the American frontier and tomorrow began to appear.  And before long, Walt was selling the idea not just to those within the Studio, but to some outside the company. It was a rough beginning, and Walt put much of his own portfolio on the line in order to get the park built, but his persistence paid off. 

Sleeping Beauty Castle - January 2012
 July 17, 1955 – Black Sunday – as it became known within the management ranks in Burbank – came and the park was flooded with guests.  Many more than they anticipated, thanks to some clever counterfeiting of tickets – thereby swelling the guest count by nearly double what was expected.  Despite negative publicity following a variety of concerns on Opening Day (non-working attractions, not enough drinking fountains, excessive heat, super-sized crowds, and more) the public quickly embraced “Walt’s Folly”, defying what the critics had to say.  And even though the park was closed two days each week, by the end of September 1955, more than one million guests had passed through the park’s gates.  What was anticipated to be a passing fancy that would quickly shut down – not only survived, but thrived!  And here we are, 57 years later, about to mark another July 17th and the much celebrated continued success of Walt’s magical little park. 

No other theme park venture has been the inspiration for not just one, but five sister Magic Kingdoms around the world… in Florida, Japan, France, Hong Kong and soon-to-be in mainland China – in Shanghai where the next Magic Kingdom is currently under construction.  No matter which park you visit – the original inspired design concept of the “Main Street” corridor leading up to the Central Hub is repeated time and again – all leading to that central structure – the castle – or the “wienie” as Walt liked to call it – beckoning guests forward to discover more delights that lie further in. 

But what IS Disneyland?  That question solicits a response that will be different from anyone that you ask.  To some, it is just an amusement park, like many others around the nation.  To others, it is a design inspiration.  Still to others it is a place where youth lives – and relives fond memories from the past – as well as allowing guests to dream about far off places, imagining themselves in different worlds or environments… much as they once did when in childhood playtime they let their imaginations run wild. 

As a theme park, Disneyland is comprised of 6 individual themed lands:  Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Mickey’s ToonTown.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday for more individual information about Disneyland – the park.

As a Resort Destination, the Disneyland Resort is comprised of two theme parks:  Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (opened in 2001) – as well as a dining, shopping and entertainment district – Downtown Disney District – and three resort hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Disneyland Resort - Map art  © Disney
For the as yet Walt Disney World only guest - yes, of course the Disneyland Resort is small.  But that roughly 600 acres that it encompasses is jammed full of fun and excitement!  The resort itself just came off a 5-year expansion program that brought the all-new CARSLAND to Disney California Adventure, as well as a multitude of new and updated attractions, shows and other offerings at both parks, and at Downtown Disney and in the hotels.  It is a multi-day destination in itself, but also easily serves as a "home-base" for extended Southern California exploration.  

It is a resort destination that annually attracts more than 15 million visitors.  It is home to the original version of many beloved Disney theme park attractions now found in other Magic Kingdoms around the world, including:  Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Mark Twain Riverboat, Tom Sawyer IslandSplash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the Jungle Cruise, Star Tours, the Enchanted Tiki Room and more. 

Disneyland is located in the city of Anaheim in Orange County, and is about 26 miles southeast of Los Angeles.  It is just minutes away from miles and miles of famed Southern California beaches, and not far from three metropolitan airports:  Los Angeles International, Ontario International and John Wayne-Santa Ana – plus two smaller airports: Long Beach and Burbank.  Convenient shuttles and buses can transport air travelers to the resort in comfort.

For more information and to reserve your next vacation to the Disneyland Resort, contact me at 855.776.1733 or via my websites:  www.neverlandadventurestravel.com or www.neverlandadventurescruises.com.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, circle me on Google+, and pin me on Pinterest

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday Trivia - The Enchanted Tiki Room

Did you know that the original concept for The Enchanted Tiki Room was to include a restaurant?  As originally conceived, the audio-animatronic performers would entertain guests in Disneyland's Adventureland following a nice meal in an tropically themed restaurant.  Due to limited capacity and the desire to maximize the use of the beautiful birds, Walt and his imagineers decided it would be best to drop the dinner portion, and simply expand the performance into a full-fledged show featuring the feathered performers.  The first performance was given in 1963, and the show continues to delight guests of all ages at Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom, nearly 50 years later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Today in Disney Parks & Resorts History - Disneyland's New Tomorrowland - 1967


July 2, 1967 - Disneyland

Disneyland's New Tomorrowland debuts.  The Peoplemover, Rocket Jets, General Electric's Carousel of Progress, and the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant all open in the newly updated Tomorrowland.  The Peoplemover, an all-new family friendly attraction, offers a leisurely ride over Tomorrowland in all-electric vehicles utilizing linear induction motors.  Sitting high above the Peoplemover's station, the Rocket Jets, a 12 two-person spinning rocket attraction, thrusts guests high into the sky as they spin round and round above the central Tomorrowland plaza.  

Thanks to overwhelming success at the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York, Walt Disney had the imagineers bring the Carousel of Progress attraction west to Disneyland where it is still sponsored by General Electric - the World's Fair sponsor who Walt convinced to help build the attraction in the first place. Sponsored by Coca-Cola, the Tomorrowland Terrace features a stage for live entertainment, which hydraulic rises from underground when in use, and then lowers once again when dormant.  The Tomorrowland Terrace includes an all-new out of this world lunch and dinner menu.